ATHENS — First-year UAB coach Trent Dilfer is excited about bringing his team to Sanford Stadium on Saturday, even though he knows things aren’t likely to turn out well on the scoreboard.
The former Super Bowl-winning quarterback admits he’s in awe of the spectacle of SEC football night games, which the Blazers will experience when they face No. 1-ranked Georgia at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“An SEC football game at night has a way better atmosphere than a Super Bowl,” said Dilfer, who led the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-7 Super Bowl win in 2000 after playing his college football at Fresno State.
“I think it’s the second coolest thing I’ve ever been to as a spectator.”
Dilfer, who enjoyed a nine-year broadcasting career as an ESPN analyst, has said attending the Kentucky Derby was at the top of the list.
But as he recently discovered, SEC football passion is everything it has been made out to be.
“I’ve never played in anything like this,” Dilfer said. “I’ve been to one SEC game, my daughter is being recruited at the University of Alabama, and we went to Ole Miss-Alabama game.
“And to this day, I think the Kentucky Derby is the coolest thing I’ve ever been able able to go to live sports … I think (SEC football) is the second coolest thing I’ve ever been to as a spectator.
Dilfer is in his first year coaching UAB after spending the previous four years as the head coach of Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, where he led that high school program to back-to-back state championships and a 44-10 record.
The Blazers are 1-2 this season, having opened the season with a 35-6 win over North Carolina A&T before setbacks against Georgia Southern (49-35) and Louisiana (41-21).
Dilfer knows exactly what his program is going to be getting into at Sanford Stadium.
“Three things jump out, number one they have great culture, great energy they play together, it is team football,” Dilfer said at his press conference. “Second is they have very good people doing it, they recruit at a very high level, they develop players they’ve recruited.
“And the third thing that is my NFL eyes, is they are NFL coached, they are incredibly well coached, from the eye discipline to their hands, to their communication; they shed blocks and they sustain blocks,” said Dilfer, who passed for more than 20,000 yards before retiring following the 2007 season.
“They’ve very complex defensively, and offensively they are multiple so you can’t guess,” he said.
“It looks very much like getting ready for the Baltimore Ravens, or Rams or Chargers or whoever you are playing that week …. They have really good players, who are really well coached, that know what they are doing that know what you are doing …. And they have finishers.”